On Monday in this space, ex-Congressman and former presidential candidate Tom Tancredo called for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border following the murder of rancher Rob Krentz, presumably by an illegal alien.
His plea has now been echoed by none other than Arizona Senator John McCain, who sent a letter to Napolitano name-checking Krentz; read it below.
McCain's move indicated just how much heat he's feeling from primary opponent J.D. Hayworth, who's challenging the 2008 Republican presidential nominee from the right. After all, Tancredo has open contempt for McCain, who he rips whenever he gets the opportunity -- including at the recent National Tea Party convention.
At that gathering, Tancredo caused a stir by arguing that the country should adopt literacy tests as a prerequisite for voting -- a prospect critics compared to old Jim Crow laws designed to prevent African-Americans from voting. In an interview with Westword, Tancredo denied that race was behind his suggestion, noting that he got the idea from an immigrant. He added, "The only thing that was discouraging to me was I was really hoping to have a lot more attention drawn to my remarks about John McCain, who I dislike intensely and hoped wouldn't win. That was three-quarters of the speech."
He returned to this theme during a previously unpublished portion of the interview conducted on Monday. He'd been in Arizona that weekend to speak at a Tea Party rally in the town of Sonoita, about twenty miles from the border, before a crowd of approximately 500 people. "People came from miles around, and it was great," Tancredo said. "I'm sure that neither John McCain nor Dick Armey would agree that it was great, but I thought it was wonderful, because I got to talk about them, too, in McCain's home state."
The reference to Armey pertains to Tancredo's contention that the onetime Majority Leader is trying to take over the Tea Party movement -- the subject of a blog published yesterday. As for McCain, Tancredo noted that his speech took place in Southern Arizona, which is not one of the veteran senator's areas of strength -- but he couldn't resist pointing out that "no one I met liked him."
Moreover, Tancredo confessed to being puzzled that Tea Party heroine Sarah Palin, who rose to prominence as McCain's vice-presidential pick in 2008, had recently headlined at McCain rallies.
"The Sarah Palin aspect of this is really fascinating," he maintained. "I wasn't close enough to the situation to know for certain, but I had the impression that he was throwing her under the bus most of the time. I don't understand her need to pay him back in any other way than in kind."
On top of that, Tancredo shared anecdotes he'd heard about sizable portions of the crowds that came to hear Palin tout her old running mate left when it was McCain's turn to speak.
Bedfellows don't get much odder. Here's McCain's letter to Napolitano:
The Honorable Janet Napolitano Secretary U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, DC
Dear Secretary Napolitano,
I am gravely concerned with the continued and apparently growing violence along our border with Mexico. Most recently, I was saddened and outraged to hear of the death of Robert Krentz, a longtime Arizona rancher who was found dead on his property near Douglas, Arizona. The federal government must do all it can within its power to curb this violence and protect its citizens from criminals coming across the border from Mexico.
For years, I have called on the President to send National Guard troops to the border in an effort to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and narcotics. Most recently, I supported Governor Jan Brewer's request to place troops along Arizona's border with Mexico. Unfortunately that request was rejected by this Administration. A year later, in light of the recent incidents and the continued growth of drug violence along the border, I am asking you and the Administration to immediately reconsider your position and send National Guard troops to our southern border region.
We must make the security of our borders one of our top national security priorities. The United States must also do all it can to assist the Mexican government in its efforts to combat these violent drug cartels. The prosperity and success of Mexico is essential to the prosperity and success of our own country. We share a border, our economies are intertwined, and we are major trading partners. The U.S. must show its support for our neighbor to the south and support the Mexican people and the Calderon Administration in this fundamental struggle against lawlessness and corruption.
The people of Arizona and the United States demand and deserve secure borders. I hope that you will take a personal interest in ensuring that Arizonans can feel safe and protected on their own property and not live in fear of the increasing violence along the border. I look forward to a swift and decisive response to this situation.